What does it mean to be thankful? We talk about it every year, we go around the table at Thanksgiving and share things that we're thankful for, but what does it really mean? Is being thankful a passive verb? Or does it actually imply action? I have the feeling that true thankfulness, true gratitude, requires action.
Let me explain. I don't think that it's a bad thing to recognize the many things we're grateful for. In fact, we should be doing that. We should be counting our blessings and thanking God for them every day. But I think that gratitude also means we actually have to do something. I think when we experience true gratitude, we want to go out and specifically find the person who deserves our thanks.
A couple weeks ago for our Family Home Evening (for those that don't know what that is, follow this link) Gauchay had us do an activity where we contacted someone and thanked them for something they'd done. I thought of a dear friend who has had a major impact on my life and on Gauchay's. He was a part of God's work to bring Gauchay and I together. And while I was grateful for that, I didn't think I ever had sat down to express it to him. So I wrote him a note of gratitude and tried to put my actual feelings into it. It was an amazing experience. The feelings that came over me as I expressed thanks to someone who had blessed my life were sweet and precious. Showing gratitude is essential to living the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So this Thanksgiving I want to give you all a special challenge: instead of just recognizing what you're thankful for, be sure to go out and express that gratitude to whoever made it possible, whether it be someone in your family, Heavenly Father, a friend, or someone you barely know. I promise that the feelings that will come over you and the recipient of your gratitude will be sweet and tender and be something that you will cherish forever. I think this lies at the heart of what Thanksgiving really is, and I know that as we express that thanks and teach our families to express gratitude, that we will grow closer to our Heavenly Father.